Hiking Tips

Nature Photography: How to Capture Nature’s Beauty on a Hike

POSTED ON March 22, 2023 BY Ralph S.


Nature photography is a captivating art that allows us to capture the beauty of the natural world through stunning images. It is a popular form of landscape photography that captures the essence and raw beauty of nature in its most pristine form.

As nature photographers, we have the privilege of witnessing and immortalizing some of the most breathtaking scenes in the great outdoors. However, shooting nature photography can be challenging and requires a certain level of skill, technique, and an eye for detail.

In this blog post, we will share some valuable nature photography tips to help you shoot attractive images on your next hike.

Whether you are a seasoned nature photographer or just starting out with your iPhone or Android device, these photography tips will help you create beautiful images that truly capture the essence of the natural world.

Camera Aperture

Know Your Nature Photography Subjects

First, it is important to know your subjects and their natural habitat before you head out to shoot nature photography. This will not only help you predict shots but also get a new perspective on capturing their beauty.

Different types of landscapes, animals, and plants require different shooting techniques and lighting conditions.

For instance, if you are photographing wildlife, it is important to understand their behavior and movements in order to capture the perfect shot. Similarly, if you are shooting landscapes, understanding the natural elements such as light, weather, and patterns can help you create attractive images.

But first, check out our Guide to Wildlife Encounters for tips on how to be safe in the wilderness or National Parks.

Nature Photograph

Choose the Best Camera for Nature Photography

When choosing the best camera for nature photography, it’s essential to consider several key factors that will influence your ability to capture inspiring images in the great outdoors.

Here are the key aspects to focus on:

  • Camera size and weight: When hiking, you want a camera that is lightweight and compact. This will make it easier to carry around and won’t weigh you down.
  • Weather sealing: Nature can be unpredictable, so having a weather-sealed camera is crucial for protecting your equipment from rain, dust, or snow.
  • Image quality: Look for cameras with high resolution and good low-light performance. This will ensure your images are sharp, detailed, and have good color accuracy in any lighting condition.
  • Battery life: When spending long hours outdoors, it’s important to have a camera with a long battery life or the option to change batteries easily.

Choosing the Correct Camera Settings for Nature Photography

When shooting nature photography, it is also important to understand your camera’s settings and how they can affect the final image.

Here are four of the most important camera settings to consider:

  • Camera Body and Aperture for Depth of Field
  • Shutter Speed
  • Sensitivity to Light (ISO)
  • White Balance

Camera Accessories

Camera Body and Aperture for Depth of Field

A DSLR camera (digital single-lens reflex camera) with a crop sensor can be an excellent choice for nature photography because It provides a smaller and lighter setup for hiking while maintaining image quality.

A crop sensor camera body can also be advantageous when using a zoom lens for wildlife photography, as it effectively extends the focal length.

In landscape photography, using smaller apertures (higher f-stop values like f/11 or f/16) can help you achieve a greater depth of field, keeping both foreground and background in sharp focus.

For close-up photography, using a wider aperture (lower f-stop values like f/2.8 or f/4) can create a beautiful background blur while keeping your main subject in focus.

You can also use a wider aperture to create a shallow depth of field and draw attention to the main focus in your photo.

Understand the Camera’s Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is crucial for capturing sharp images, especially in wildlife photography where subjects may be in motion.

For fast-moving subjects, like birds or running animals, use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. A shutter speed of 1/500th of a second or faster is often recommended.

In landscape photography, you can use slower shutter speeds to capture flowing water or create a sense of motion in clouds. Also, use a tripod to ensure sharp images when shooting with slower shutter speeds.

Mountain and Clouds

Choose the Right Camera Lens

Landscape photographers often opt for wide-angle lenses to capture expansive scenes. A wider aperture (lower f-stop) can help a photographer achieve a shallower depth of field, making the main focus pop against the background.

For wildlife photography, consider a zoom lens with a longer focal length to capture distant subjects. A longer lens can also provide a pleasing background blur (bokeh).

When photographing close-ups of elements like tree bark or flowers, a macro or close-up lens is essential to capture fine details. Also, using a longer focal length lens or extension tubes can magnify your subject.

  • Wide-Angle Lens: Perfect for landscapes and capturing sweeping vistas that allow a photographer to include more of the scene in a frame.
  • Telephoto Lens: Ideal for wildlife photography, a telephoto lens with a long focal length lets you get close-up shots of distant subjects.
  • Macro Lens: A dedicated macro lens is indispensable for capturing intricate details in close-up photography.
  • Standard Zoom Lens: A versatile lens for a range of situations, including the general nature of wildlife photography.

Note: If possible, carry dual lenses to cover a wide range of subjects and shooting scenarios. Having a wide-angle and a zoom lens can help you adapt quickly to changing conditions.

Understand the Camera’s ISO (Sensitivity to Light)

ISO determines the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to light.

A higher ISO is useful in low-light conditions, but it can also introduce noise into your images. A photographer can experiment with different ISO settings to find the right balance for the specific environment.

Choose the Correct White Balance Setting

The white balance setting helps a photographer adjust the color temperature of the images. Different lighting conditions will require different white balance settings, so you can experiment and find what works best for each situation.

The Best Shooting Techniques and Lighting Conditions When Hiking

It is essential to plan your shots according to the lighting conditions. However, the best time for nature photography is during the golden hour, which is an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset. During this time, the light is softer and warmer, providing a beautiful glow to your images.

Another crucial tip is to shoot in manual mode. This will give you more control over the exposure and allow you to capture the natural beauty of your subjects with precision. Also, it is important to experiment with different angles and perspectives.

Shooting Technique

Experimenting with Angles When Photographing Nature

As mentioned earlier, experimenting with angles and perspectives can add interest and depth to your nature photos.

Try getting down low to capture a photo from the perspective of an animal on the ground. Or climb up high for a bird’s eye view of a landscape. This will add depth and interest to your images.

You can also try shooting through different elements such as branches or flowers to add texture and dimension to your images.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and try different angles, you never know what kind of unique shot you may capture.

Importance of Patience in Nature Photography

Nature and landscape photography require patience. Whether you are waiting for the perfect lighting or waiting for an animal to make an appearance, it is important to stay still and be patient.

Nature has its own timing and rhythm, and as photographers, we must learn to work with it. This patience will pay off in capturing that perfect shot that truly captures the essence of nature’s beauty.

Lastly, predict shots by observing the behavior of animals or the changing light conditions in your surroundings.

Composition Nature Photography Tips

Nikon Camera Lens

Composition technique is key in any form of photography, and it is especially important in landscape photography. Experiment with composition techniques like the rule of thirds, leading lines, and framing to create visually appealing images.

  • Rule of thirds: Composition plays a crucial role in nature photography and can make or break an image. The rule of thirds suggests dividing your frame into three equal sections both horizontally and vertically and placing your main subject at one of the points where the lines intersect. Also, pay attention to the balance of your shot, ensuring that your main subject is well-placed within the frame.
  • Leading lines: Using elements such as a path, a river, or a tree to lead the viewer’s eye towards your subject can create a more dynamic and visually pleasing image, particularly in garden photography.
  • Framing: Use foreground elements such as trees, branches, or rocks to frame your subject and add depth and interest to your images.

Editing Your Nature Photography

Editing your nature photography is also an important step in the process of creating beautiful images. A few simple adjustments can make a big difference in the final outcome:

  • Adjust exposure and contrast: Use editing software or Apps to adjust the exposure and contrast of your images to enhance details and bring out the natural colors. Check out a list of the best editing software Here
  • Crop for composition: Don’t be afraid to crop your images if it improves the overall composition of the shot.
  • Remove distractions: Use cloning or healing tools to remove any distracting elements in your images, such as litter or other unwanted objects.
  • Filters: Experiment with different filters and presets to achieve a unique style for your nature photos.

Tips to Enhance Your Photo Experience When Hiking

Squirrel Photograph

As nature photographers, we are always looking for ways to improve our photo experience and capture ever more inspiring images. Hiking can present its own set of challenges when it comes to photography, but with a few tips and tricks, you can enhance your photo experience and take your skills to the next level.

Here are seven useful nature photography tips to help you:

Get Up Close and Personal by Exploring Different Locations

Close-up photography is a great way to capture the intricate details of nature. It allows you to focus on the small, often overlooked elements that make up the larger landscape. Use a macro lens or your camera’s zoom function to get up close and personal with flowers, insects, and other natural elements. This will add depth and dimension to your photos, creating attractive images that truly showcase nature’s beauty.

National Parks, Nature Reserves, Mountains, and even your own backyard can offer unique opportunities for nature photography.

Don’t limit yourself to one location, instead explore new natural areas and find hidden gems that will make for great shots. But remember to respect the environment and follow any rules or regulations in place.

Post-Processing for Enhancement

Don’t hesitate to use post-processing techniques to enhance your raw images. Adjusting exposure, contrast, and color can make your photos even more captivating.

Use editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom for basic adjustments like exposure, contrast, and color balance.

Separate the subject from the background

Many landscape photos can benefit from using a graduated neutral density filter, which helps balance exposure between the sky and foreground, particularly in flower photography.

Utilize Natural Light For The Best Moments

Light is an essential element in nature photography. The right lighting can turn an ordinary scene into a breathtaking masterpiece. Experiment with different times of the day to see how natural light affects your shots.

Early morning and late evening are often referred to as the “Golden Hours” by nature photographers. The soft, warm light during these times enhances the colors and textures of your subjects.

The low angle of sunlight during these hours also creates interesting shadows and highlights, adding depth and dimension to your photos. When hiking, experiment with different angles and compositions during these times to make the most of the golden light.

Nonetheless, don’t limit yourself to just golden hour, as different lighting conditions can also create unique images.

Golden Hour Nature Photography

Shoot in RAW

Shooting in RAW format allows for more flexibility in post-processing. It captures all image data without compressing it, providing more room for adjustments during editing.

Don’t Be Afraid to Edit

Editing your photos is a crucial step in creating stunning nature images. It allows you to enhance the colors, contrast, and overall look of your raw images to truly capture the beauty of the natural world. However, it is important not to over-edit and keep the original essence of your photos intact. Experiment with different editing tools to find the perfect balance and create stunning images that stand out.

Invest in Good Quality Gear

Investing in good quality gear can make a significant difference in your nature photography. A sturdy tripod, strap, and lens filters are some essential items that can improve the overall quality of your images and make your hike more comfortable.

Essential Gear for Capturing Nature’s Beauty: A Photographer’s Checklist

Photography Gear

As a nature photographer, your gear is your toolkit for capturing the raw and captivating beauty of the natural world. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting on your photographic journey, having the right gear and equipment can make all the intricate details of nature.

Here is a list of the essential gear and appropriate clothing to consider:

  1. Camera Body: Your choice of camera body is at the core of your photography gear. Consider a high-quality DSLR or mirrorless camera that offers manual controls, high-resolution sensors, and compatibility with a range of lenses. A crop sensor camera can be a versatile choice for nature photography, offering a balance between image quality and portability.
  2. Tripod: A sturdy tripod is essential for capturing sharp, long-exposure shots, especially in low-light conditions. Look for one with adjustable legs and a ball head for flexibility in positioning your camera.
  3. Filters: Filters can significantly enhance your nature photos:
  • Polarizing Filter: Reduces reflections and enhances colors, especially in water and sky.
  • Neutral Density (ND) Filter: Helps control exposure by reducing the amount of light entering the lens. Useful for achieving long exposures.
  • UV Filter: Offers protection for your lens from dust, moisture, and scratches.
  1. Camera Bag: A good camera bag keeps your gear organized, secure, and easily accessible during hikes. Look for one that’s comfortable to carry and provides protection from the elements.
  2. Remote Shutter Release: A remote shutter release or cable release eliminates the need to physically touch your camera, reducing the risk of camera shaking during long exposures or wildlife shots.
  3. Extra Batteries and Memory Cards: Nature photography can be power-hungry, so pack extra camera batteries and memory cards to ensure you never miss a great shot.
  4. Lens Cleaning Kit: Dust, dirt, and moisture are common outdoor challenges. A lens cleaning kit with microfiber cloths and a cleaning solution will help you keep your lenses in top condition.
  5. Weather Protection: Protect your gear from the elements with items like rain covers, lens hoods, and camera coats. These are particularly important for shooting in challenging weather conditions.
  6. Binoculars: Binoculars can help you spot distant wildlife or interesting objects before you even bring out your camera.
  7. Headlamp or Flashlight: When photographing during early mornings or late evenings, a headlamp or flashlight is essential for navigating and setting up your equipment in the dark.
  8. Smartphone or Tablet: These devices can be handy for scouting locations, checking weather forecasts, and using apps for sunrise/sunset times, and star maps for astrophotography.


Nature Photography Mountains mirroring in Lake

Hiking in the midst of nature is an amazing experience that refreshes one’s body and soul. The beautiful landscapes and tranquil scenes can be a great opportunity for avid photographers to capture the serenity of nature.

Nature photography, on the other hand, is a challenging yet rewarding art form that allows us to shoot and preserve the beauty of our natural world. But by following these photography tips, you can take your outdoor photography skills to the next level and capture images that truly showcase

Overall, photography is more than just clicking random shots of scenic views or natural objects. It requires patience, creativity, and passion to capture the beauty of nature

Check out our Hiking Tips Guide for more tips on how to make your hiking experience safe.


Ralph S. is the founder of Silverlight, an avid hiker and trail runner he enjoys spending time outdoors, riding his motorcycle and swimming at the beach when he's not busy replying to customers or developing new Silverlight gear.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *